Early Evening Light Washes

Selected Poems by Michelle Maher

Michelle Maher, Cordella Magazine


Early Evening Light Washes


I go to greet my older sister

at our dying father’s bedside.

Early evening light washes

his bedroom with a soft gold, and once again

I’m two years old:


rooting in the garden

in front of our apartment

on a summer afternoon,

searching among wilted tulip stalks

for my father’s black horn-rimmed glasses.


My sister and I, both in our fifties,

haven’t spoken to each other

in eighteen years, since our parents’ divorce.


I’ve found them before—

behind the sofa, under a desk.

I crouch, grab hold, and call out.

Hoisting me to his shoulder, he says

Babe, you have the eyes of a hawk,

bright air settling around us.


I’ve prepared what I’m going to say:

You have our father’s eyes.

I’m glad to see you.

This is Dad, she says,

pointing to her chest:

You’re not welcome here.



Deep Blue Bowl


I think of how I saw my mother again

today as I left school. Out of the corner

of my eye I saw her head in profile

up above the roof of the college

against a sky of azure blue, tiny white wings

at her neck, like a fluffy collar.

She looked so happy, laughing with others

whose faces I couldn’t see, her face young

and radiant as if she were in a group of high school friends

at a dance or football game, and I’m surprised

whenever I see her—and I’ve seen her a few times

since she died in November—how happy she is

without me. Really? I want to say.

You left me with boxes of photos

and no one to call who will be interested

in my day, down to its tiniest detail.

I want to be somebody’s child again.

As you grow younger, I grow older,

under this sky, this deep blue bowl.



Death Gives Us


what nothing else can:

a woman as solid as a boulder

squatting in the middle of the road.

Yes, her we can rest on—

she is strong enough to carry us

when nothing else can.


Can she take our love?

I think so.


She comes down on the side of us

that lives in the world we suffer in

but asks for more:

our rock our womb our strength

when we fail she will carry us

her hair long, covering her face

her hands full of stars.



Michelle Maher

Michelle Maher’s work has appeared in journals such as the Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Chautauqua Literary JournalThe Georgetown Review, Atlanta Review, and U.S. 1 Worksheets. Maher won the 2012 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, a national contest sponsored by Carlow University. Her poem, At the Brera, Milan, was selected from 380 poems by judge Toi Derricotte. She is a professor of English at La Roche College.